McGregor is at Home Among the Star Studded Cast of Cesar Chavez
Lorena McGregor is aware that she is surrounded by very well-known and respected actors. What is also very apparent to everyone around her is the fact that she most definitely belongs in this group. As Sylvia Chavez, one of Cesar Chavez’s daughters in the film which bears the civil rights leader’s name, McGregor has found herself working alongside Michael Peña (of Oscar nominated best films American Hustle and Crash), America Ferrera (Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy winner), Rosario Dawson, and under the direction of Diego Luna (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Y Tu Mama Tambien, The Book of Life). It seems that this young Mexican actress is in the cue to become a household name like her costars in this award-winning feature film. Cesar Chavez received the ALMA Award for Special Achievement in Film and earned the Winner of Audience Award — Narrative Spotlight for Diego Luna at SXSW.
Not overthinking it, McGregor sent in a self-audition tape for the role while still in the midst of her studies at the Stella Adler Academy. In a week’s time she was called in by casting Director Heidi Levitt. In spite of no prior film experience or even a headshot, Lorena met with Diego Luna and Michael Peña the next day. The actress describes, “The director asked me to do some scenes with Michael Peña. Diego Luna couldn’t stop smiling. The whole situation was magical. I’d wanted to work with Diego Luna since I was very young and here I was doing some scenes for him with Michael Peña. I got the call offering me the part the very next day. It was an experience that I wasn’t expecting so early in my career and it was so beautiful to think that I was going to be working with fellow actors whom I had looked up to since my youth. I was also a little nervous and overwhelmed.”
Sharing some similarities with Sylvia (Lorena is from Durango Mexico and currently resides in the US) did not lessen the actress’s sense of responsibility in portraying a real person. While Peña presented a larger than life social leader, McGregor’s performance focuses on a strong and opinionated teenage girl with humanizing extroverted and insecure moments. Sylvia is a person who grew up in a very conventional Chicano family that was simultaneously unconventional due to a highly visible patriarch. A father so consumed with leading the life of a political leader who set an example that would create change among his own community that he often neglected his own family; a wellspring of emotional motivation for Lorena. She relates, “Sylvia had to deal with a dad that was never home and when he was, he didn’t have the time to be with them. For me to be able to depict this whole internal war she had inside of her while growing up, I had to understand intimately without judgement and accept everything that was going on around her. I was immediately connected to her, almost as if I knew who she was; whether it was from a friend or because I could identify some things from myself in her.”
The film’s accolades include the Imagen Foundation Awards for Special Achievement in Film, Best Actor/Supporting Actor in a Feature Film for Michael Peña, Best Actress/Supporting Actress in a Feature Film for America Ferrera, and Rosario Dawson’s-Best Actress/Supporting Actress-Feature Film nomination. For her part, McGregor admits that she may have started her film career with an unusually high standard. Concerning her cast-mates she states, “Rosario and I were in the march scene together. It was so powerful that I got goosebumps. America played my mother so we of course had many scenes together. The chemistry with Michael Peña was very easy and he was always helpful with hints and tips. I felt a true kinship with Diego as we are both from the same country and culture. Every time I encounter another Mexican who is doing great things and is representing our country the right way, I get this warm feeling in my heart. Diego gathered everyone together, crew and talent, our first day on set. We made a big circle and he gave an inspiring speech that to this day I carry with me every time I start a new project. He said that for the time being we were going to be like a family and we were going to take care of each other. In times of doubt and times of fear, we should always remember that we were going to do this with love. It was a perfect lesson for my career and life.”